Tacos and jalapeño with toppings at Hotel Bel-Air
Food and drink

LA’s best restaurants

April 20, 2022

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From street markets to Michelin-starred restaurants, we explore how the history, people and geography of Los Angeles have influenced and shaped the identity of its cuisine.
Greetings on the red carpet in Beverly Hills

The history of LA’s food scene

Traced back to when the Golden State came under Mexican rule in 1821, Mexico’s impact on LA is omnipresent across the city, from taco trucks and quesadilla carts to the Bienvenidos Amigos script on the pillars at the entrance of The Beverly Hills Hotel. Born in California to Mexican parents, Michelin-starred chef Carlos Salgado is a shining example of how the two cultures are entwined. Carlos founded the highly-acclaimed Taco María in Costa Mesa. Corn is key here; enjoy the Baja striped bass on handmade blue corn tortillas as you take in the fruity mole sauce. 

Taco María, 3313 Hyland Boulevard, Suite C21, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Home of the healthy lifestyle

With year-round sunshine, surfing culture and farmers’ markets selling locally-grown produce, the coastal city of LA has a reputation for nutritious cuisine chef Ichiro Mashita is credited for inventing the Californian roll here. Craving a healthy lunch? Then order the McCarthy salad from The Beverly Hills Hotel, which was first requested by the polo player Neil McCarthy in the 1940s. You may also wish to try the pumpkin soup at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air the menu is designed by the king of Californian cuisine, the eponymous author of Wolfgang Puck Makes It Healthy.

Colorful McCarthy salad with chopped items in signature white bowl
Vibrant signs and businesses inside Grand Central Market Downtown Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Jakob Layman

The street food of LA

LA’s ties with Latin America and Asia are on full sensory display in Koreatown and the nearby Guatemalan Night Market, where you can take in the heady aromas of fried plantains and grilled cornmeal flatbread. Meanwhile, the indoor Grand Central Market, founded in 1917, is home to stalls featuring international dishes with a local twist, from burritos and ramen to currywurst and Filipino rice bowls. Head to Roast To Go, where tacos and slow-cooked pork have been on the menu since 1952, while China Cafe serves its popular chow mein, a recipe unchanged since 1959. 

Koreatown, Los Angeles, CA 90005, 90006 and 90010
Guatemalan Night Market, 1834-1898 West 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90057
Grand Central Market, 317 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

LA’s rising stars

Screen sirens flock to LA to see their name in lights as do upcoming chefs. Rising stars John and Katianna Hong met while working at the two Michelin-starred restaurant Melisse. The duo now serve congee and Korean pork belly stew at their own restaurant, Yangban Society. Another notable chef, Evan Funke who was mentored by the founder of La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese cooking school is also making a name for himself. Formerly a visiting chef of Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air’s barbecue series, his Mother Wolf brasserie serves handmade pasta alongside squash blossoms with ricotta.

Yangban Society, 712 South Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Mother Wolf, 1545 Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Yangban Society overhead view of table filled with Korean entrees and comfort food
Sushi dish served in elegant china in LA
Photo courtesy of Michael Tulipan

LA’s fine dining scene

With 28 Michelin-starred restaurants, LA is spoilt for choice when it comes to fine dining. Jordan Kahn is behind the two-star Vespertine, housed in a steel tower designed by Eric Owen Moss Architects. Kahn’s cuisine is just as artistic as the surroundings The New York Times compared him to Jackson Pollock. Enjoy 21 colourful courses featuring edible shells, preserved bougainvillaea and dry ice. Two-star Sushi Ginza Onodera is more intimate, with just eight seats. Here Yohei Matsuki prepares fermented squid, sea urchin custard and sushi from Tokyo’s Toyosu Market presented on leaves and ceramics made in Bizen, Arita and Kutani.

Vespertine, 3599 Hayden Avenue, Culver City, Los Angeles, CA 90232
Sushi Ginza Onodera, 609 La Cienega Boulevard, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA 90069

If you feel inspired to try your hand at Mexican cooking, Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air’s huevos rancheros with salsa ranchera is perfect for breakfast.

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